The Roman Catholic Church is denying reports that Pope Francis claimed that Hell does not exist.
“What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the literal words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted,” said the Catholic News Agency. “No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”
Pope Francis had a private interview with a longtime atheist friend, Eugenio Scalfari, founder of Italian publication La Repubblica. Scalfari published the interview, claiming that the Pope said the following, regarding unrepentant sinners:
“They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”
The Vatican says that this account cannot be trusted.
“Scalfari’s fifth meeting with Pope Francis, it is not the first time he has misrepresented the Pope’s words following a private audience,” said CNA. “In November 2013, following intense controversy over quotes the journalist had attributed to Francis, Scalfari admitted that at least some of the words he had published a month prior we not shared by the Pope himself.”
The question remains about why the Pope continues to meet privately with a lying atheist.
Meanwhile, the Vatican affirms the teaching of the existence of hell.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.”